Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Lord Will Fight for You

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“Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.” 
Isaiah 51:4-5

It all seems so unfair. I mean, usually I am the last one you will ever hear complaining. I do my chores and I help my family out. I’m not going to lie- life is hard here. It’s really hard. I am weekly, if not, daily, reminded by people in the market that a Savior is coming. “Our Savior is coming,” they say. He will redeem. He will make all things right. He will fight for us. I want so badly to believe that there is hope. That someone is coming who actually cares about the common people. I want to believe that there is someone that will fight for justice and for all the years of wrong that has happened in my country. I want to believe that there is someone who will remove this heavy burden my family has been carrying just to make it through the day. Our systems here are corrupt. Those in authority take advantage of people like my family, who are very poor. They spend time with those who are well off like themselves and spit on the very ground we walk on.

Just the other day they raised the taxes on small town farmers like papa. He came home and tried to act brave for mama. When he walked into the washroom I saw him wipe his eyes. A thousand wrinkles in his face from a hard life of sweat and plowing. He told mama that in order for us to pay for the tax increase we would have to sell our cattle to the tax collectors. I could hear them fighting from the other room. “No” she cried. “Those were the ones we were saving for Passover. We only have one week until Passover. We’ll never save up enough money to buy one back from them!” I came out to see what all the fighting was about, but papa told me to go back into my room.

The next morning I tried to console mama. I told her my friend Adah down the street tells me stories she hears from her parents. She tells me about a man named Jesus who will fight for us. He will make all things right. He will be our peacemaker. Mama looks down at me. Her eyes carry years of worry. She smiles a crooked smile, as if that’s all the strength she can muster. “I want to believe, sweet one.” “I really do.” And she cups my face with her hand and looks right into my eyes. “Let us hope this Savior you speak of comes soon. Let us hope He comes very soon.”

It was a normal Sunday as the town prepared for Passover. I was filling the basin with water to wash papas feet. He would be home any minute. I could hear something happening outside the temple gates. I heard shouting. As I looked out the window I couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw a man and he looked angry. He kicked over the tables of the bankers and the stalls of the pigeon merchants. He didn’t let anyone even carry a basket through the Temple. And then I heard him shout, “My house was designated a house of prayer for the nations; You’ve turned it into a hangout for thieves.” (Mark 11:15-17 MSG) There was something in his voice. I wasn’t afraid. He wasn’t fighting against our people. He looked grieved. He was so stirred up. He was fighting for us.

In all my time of living under the oppression of the temple priests and tax collectors, I have never seen One with such authority speak to them in this manner. He wasn’t afraid of them or what they might do to Him. I shouted with excitement to mama to hurry and see. She held me as we watched these events unfold. I felt a tear trickle down from her cheek. “My sweet Tabitha, could this be the One?” “Could this be the Savior who has come to fight for us?” We both watched in silence as expectancy filled our hearts. For the first time in our house that night I saw something I had not seen in my parents in a very long time. I saw hope.

 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

With that same passion and authority, I believe the Lord is fighting for us, even right now. He wages warfare on our behalf and will come in right on time to bring hope and healing. He fights for the regular people, like you and I. My friends, whatever your need, help is on the way.

I’m 40

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It’s not getting older that scares me. I’m actually okay with that. Do you want to know what really scares me? It’s getting to the end of my race and not making a difference in peoples lives. We were born to make a difference.

Had a light bulb moment today. My husband sent me off to Barnes & Noble for my 40th birthday (he is a good man). I’m driving along the freeway in my mini-van listening to the radio and an old familiar song came on. Just like certain foods can stir up a childhood memory, a familiar song can also bring about an emotion. ‘I don’t want to go through the motions’ by Matthew West. I was reminded of a few years back singing this song with such passion and conviction. And even as the years have passed, I hear it fresh all over again. I don’t want to go through the motions. I don’t want to get through another 5 years and ask myself if I’ve made a difference. Since it’s my 40th birthday today and I consider this a milestone, I have chosen to take some time to self-reflect.

I have been to my share of funerals and weddings over the past few years. I leave both feeling inspired- A celebration of the beginning together and a celebration of a life well lived. It’s the life well lived part that has been swirling around in my brain lately. And let’s just say (hypothetically) I live until around 80ish. Folks, I’m around the halfway mark. I want my life to matter. I want my life to make a difference. And what I’ve come to realize over the years is that we need to imagine how we see our lives in another 20, 25, 30 years down the line and envision what we hope people will say about us and begin to live it today.

Here’s my list that holds me accountable for how I ought to be living today. Some of these things I’m already doing and some of them I’m not. I encourage you to write your own list because if affects how you choose to live each day.

 These are words I hope will be spoken at the end of my race (or perhaps just a birthday party when I’m much older) from my kids, my husband, my friends, and my family:

She put God first.

She inspired me to live for God.

She would always talk about God- not her religion, but her relationship with Him.

She wasn’t perfect, and she showed me that it’s okay to not be perfect.

She showed unconditional love.

We always knew that we were loved.

She was always there for us. We knew we were important to her.

She didn’t take herself too seriously.

She made me laugh.

She enjoyed the journey.

She was real.

She did things even if they scared her.

She pursued God for herself and for her family.

She was so encouraging.

She lived an authentic, vulnerable life.

Her stories made it okay to tell my stories.

She would always steer me back to God’s Word.

Even when she didn’t know how things would turn out, she trusted God.

She always tried to be there for me.

She was a great listener.

She used the gifts God gave her for His glory.

I don’t want to go through the motions. As I was driving in the car, listening to my song, I said, “God, I just want to make a difference, whatever that looks like for me.” I want to push myself and do things I’m afraid of, so that others would be challenged and inspired to truly live this life to the fullest, being all that they were called to be. I want to leave a legacy. I want to be a lover of life. I want to stay amazed at the miracle of life and the miracles that are in our everyday.

We are called to be a light and make a difference. I don’t want to wake up in 20 years with regrets of what I wished I had done. I want to do it- even if it scares the snot out of me. Romans 8:31- What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

So what’s going to be my focus in the coming years? Well, spending time with the Lord of course, but after that? People. Because I believe that just like time with the Lord is never wasted time, time with people is also never wasted time. And honestly, people make my life rich. I love my husband, my kids, my family, and my friends so much. Every time I’m able to have a connection with someone, I feel refreshed. When I speak, I feel such love for God’s people. When I write, I write with people on my heart- to bring hope. When I think about my husband and I having a Ranch, a place of ministry, I think about the people and the lives that God’s going to change. You see, I have my own stories of people that have come into my life when I was a wild, rebellious young thing and the mark those people left on my life. I am forever changed because someone decided to invest into my life. Those stories are a part of who I am. And I hope at the end of my journey that people will stand and say the same thing. “Her story affected my story…”

At the end of this crazy life, I’m not going to wish I had more things to clutter up my house, more cute outfits, a big house or a super nice car. Nope. I’m going to hope that I have made a difference in the lives of others. I’m going to hope that I had valued my family more than all of my projects and made them feel important. It’s the relationships here on this earth that have eternal value, not the stuff, not the projects. Because really, what is the greatest of all commandments? Matthew 22:37-40 (MSG)-Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

…..everything in God’s Law and Prophets hangs from them….

So here’s to the second half of this crazy, amazing, messy miracle called life. May we all love well.

Now get out there and live!

Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy the journey!

Psalms 90:12- Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

 

 

 

 

 

Authentic Faith 2014

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Happy New Year!! Okay, so I know most people post their new years blog on the 1st, but I like to be different! I had been praying at the end of the year for my ‘word’ for the coming year. I know surrender is one of my words, but I knew there was something else. Then as my husband and I were driving on New Years Eve to my brother/sister in laws house I got it. Authentic Faith.

A life following after Jesus is not perfect. It’s actually quite messy. We mess up, we make mistakes, we loose our temper, and we can become easily distracted. But His mercies are new for us every morning! We have financial stresses just like everybody else. The difference between us and those who don’t know Jesus yet is that we have a Savior who walks beside us and gives us wisdom and teaches us self-control. Our families go through sickness just like other families, we just happen to serve a powerful God who can heal us if He so chooses- but He is also ever present, walking with us during our sickness. He is always with us.

In the past, women, especially those in ministry, have worked hard to maintain an image that if you follow Jesus, well, then everything is perfect. Perfect home, perfect image, perfect kids, perfect life- problem is, that image couldn’t be farther from the truth. You see, that image not only leaves us frustrated and disappointed, but also feeling like we can’t measure up. We can’t live up to the image of the perfect Christian that we’ve tried so hard to maintain. And for others watching our lives, they feel like they must be doing something wrong and they feel like failures as a Christian. They see our Facebook life and ‘think’ we have it all together. Truth is, most of the time, we just really enjoy sharing our victories with others or our favorite photos. That doesn’t mean life doesn’t carry its share of trials.

Make no mistake about it, we do not have it all together, for I fear if we did we would not need Jesus so desperately. We all have our issues. We have messes all around us- kids that throw tantrums, kids that have entitlement issues, days when our marriages are less than perfect, fears about if we’re even doing this parenting thing right, hoping we’re not messing up our kids. Some of you reading this have even cried yourself to sleep recently because, as I said before, life is messy.

We are entering a new year. I believe this is a year of authentic faith. What is authentic faith? It’s a faith that is real, transparent, lived out in front of believers and non-believers alike. Many of us have had disappointments from the previous year. If you’re breathing and you have a pulse (and I hope you do), I am sure there have been a few. And when I say authentic faith, I’m not saying to go around telling anyone available all of your deepest life problems. As Christians, we are to pray for wisdom. And God will guide and direct us to other solid Christians we can share our struggles with. But authentic is real. Its ‘welcome to my beautiful messy life’.

Living a life of authentic faith points us, all of us, to something that the world is desperately trying to find- hope. The opposite of despair is hope. And as a follower and friend of Jesus, we can have hope. Hope in God that He will restore and make all things new. We have hope in a Savior that has promised to walk with us no matter what we go through. He is near to the brokenhearted. No matter what the enemy tries to throw at us, my God has the final say and the last Word! And on the other side of this mountain He will take us to a place where there’s no more tears, no more pain, and no more suffering. I pray that by living a life of authentic faith, I just might be able to take a few people with me. Not fake, but real. Real is refreshing. There is freedom in our stories, and our stories make up who we are. People can relate to that much more than us having it all together.

The number one enemy of authentic faith is fear of man. What will people think? What if I write something that people criticize? What if I share my struggles and people don’t think I have enough faith? What if… what if… what if. There will always be more than enough ‘what-ifs”. Here’s a couple of scriptures to help you with being worried about what people think (fear of man)-

Acts 5:29 I am a God-pleaser, not a people-pleaser. I obey God before man.

1 Cor. 4:3-4 I am not controlled by what people think of me. As long as God is satisfied with me I am satisfied.

Gal. 1:10- I don’t try to be popular with people. All I want to do is the will of God.

I don’t want to tip-toe around, always worried about what others think. I want to use my gifts, talents, and abilities to live for the Lord. If that means writing something that doesn’t get very many comments, then I will write for the sake of the gift and craft God has given me. Life isn’t a popularity contest, although I will admit, it feels like it at times. Being authentic is truly honoring the person that God has made you to be. The good , the bad, and the ugly. It means that we stop comparing ourselves with how everyone else is doing it, and we do things the way we feel like God has called us to do things- for us, for our families, for our friends, and for our lives. Authentic; real; transparent; refreshing.

So who’s with me in this New Year of 2014?! Together we truly can be a light to a dark place. Let’s show others that though we don’t have it all together, we know Someone who does!

Lord, Help me to walk out my faith in this coming year. Messy houses, messy kids, messy cars, messy lives- but You Lord can turn a mess into a masterpiece! It is my hearts desire to put You first in this new year and I know that everything else in my life will flow from that. I am so over trying to act like I have it all together, because that’s not real. But what’s real is that You’ve promised to carry me through all that I go through. And You can even surprise me with joy when I least expect it. I pray that as I encounter obstacles, challenges, and even heartaches in this new year, that I would face those obstacles standing on Your Word, spending time in Your presence, and just seeking You. Let Your Word be a light to my path in the coming new year.

In Jesus name, amen!

 John 16:33- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”